On a tip from wits zero 



Fly Me to the Moons
Image Credit & Copyright: Greg Gibbs (Capturing the Night Explanation: Sometimes the Moon is a busy direction. Last week, for example, our very Moon passed in front of the planet Jupiter. While capturing this unusual spectacle from New South Wales, Australia, a quick-thinking astrophotographer realized that a nearby plane might itself pass in front of the Moon, and so quickly reset his camera to take a continuous series of short duration shots. As hoped, for a brief instant, that airplane, the Moon, and Jupiter were all visible in a single exposure, which is shown above. But the project was not complete — a longer exposure was then taken to bring up three of the Jupiter’s own moons: Io, Calisto, and Europa (from left to right). Unfortunately, this triple spectacle soon disappeared. Less than a second later, the plane flew away from the Moon. A few seconds after that, the Moon moved to cover all of Jupiter. A few minutes after that, Jupiter reappeared on the other side of the Moon, and even a few minutes after that the Moon moved completely away from Jupiter. Although hard to catch, planes cross in front of the Moon quite frequently, but the Moon won’t eclipse Jupiter again for another three years.


Breaking News: a Meteor hits Cuba same day as Russia 2013

Published on Feb 15, 2013

On the same day a meteorite struck Russia and an asteroid buzzed Earth, there’s news of ANOTHER meteorite that apparently exploded over Cuba.

Huge explosion in the sky in Cuba Meanwhile, also from Cuba has been reported in an explosion sky. In the central region of the island has seen an object that fell from the sky and exploded with a great noise, which shook the houses in the place, reports on local television. In a report released this morning by Rodas, town in the province of Cienfuegos, w


Pictures: Meteorite Hits Russia

Pictures: Meteorite Hits Russia


  • 17 Feb 2013
  • The Star Malaysia
  • — AFP

Divers scour Russian lake

Operation is to search for fragments of meteorite after blast injures 1,200

MOSCOW: Divers scoured the bottom of a Russian lake for fragments of a meteorite that plunged to Earth in a blinding fireball whose shockwaves injured 1,200 people and damaged thousands of homes.

— EPA Gaping crater: People standing near an 8m hole, reportedly the site of a meteorite fall, in the ice of the frozen Chebarkul lake near the town of Chebarkul, about 80km from Chelyabinsk, Urals, Russia.

The 10-tonnes meteor streaked across the sky in the Urals region on Friday morning just as the world braced for a close encounter with a large asteroid that left some Russian officials calling for the creation of a global system of space object defence.

The unpredicted meteor strike brought traffic to a halt in the industrial city of Chelyabinsk as residents poured out on the streets to watch the light show before hovering for safety as a sonic boom shattered glass and set off car alarms. The shattered glass injured most of the people.



Pictures: Meteorite Hits Russia

A fiery meteor streaks over the Ural Mountains.


Close shave with asteroid 2012 DA14

As asteroids go, this one is a shrimp. The one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was 9.6km across.

But this rock could have still done immense damage if it ever struck, given its 143,000tonne heft, and release energy equivalent of 2.4 million tonnes of TNT which would wipe out 1,942 sq km.

By comparison, Nasa estimated that the meteor that exploded over Russia on Friday wasmuch smaller – about 15m wide and weighing 7,000 tonnes (or one-third the size of the passing asteroid) – before it hit the atmosphere.


  • 17 Feb 2013
  • The Star Malaysia
  • — AP

Close shave with asteroid 2012 DA14

143,000-tonne rock flies by close to Earth, just hours after Russia meteor blast

These fireballs happen about once a day or so, but we just don’t see them. This one was an exception.

From page 1 CAPE CANAVERAL (Florida): An asteroid hurtled through Earth’s backyard, coming within an incredible 27,599km and making the closest known flyby for a rock of its size. In a chilling coincidence, a meteor exploded above Russia’s Ural Mountains just hours before the asteroid zoomed past the planet.

— AFP Near miss: A Nasa graphic depicting the Earth flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 and (inset) an image courtesy of the US space agency showing the asteroid (the circled white dot) in advance of its close – but safe – approach to Earth.

Scientists the world over, along with Nasa, insisted the meteor had nothing to do with the asteroid since they appeared to have been travelling in opposite directions.

The asteroid was a much more immense object and delighted astronomers in Australia and elsewhere who watched it zip harmlessly through a clear night sky early yesterday morning.

“It’s on its way out,” reported Paul Chodas of Nasa’s Near-Earth Object programme at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

Asteroid 2012 DA14, as it’s called, came closer to Earth than many communication and weather satellites orbiting 35,887km up. Scientists had insisted these, too, would be spared, and they were right.




A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light,can escape. The theory of general relativitypredicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole.

Simulated view of a black hole (center) in front of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Note the gravitational lensing effect, which produces two enlarged but highly distorted views of the Cloud. Across the top, the Milky Way disk appears distorted into an arc.


On a tip from Wits0

The Daily Telegraph

Wed 7 Dec 2011

New black holes ‘so big nobody believed them for 20 years’

Scientists spent two decades before they finally accepted that they had discovered the biggest black holes known to exist – each one 10 billion times the size of the Sun.

Scientists find biggest ever black holes

Image 1 of 3
An artist’s impression of stars moving in the central regions of a giant elliptical galaxy that harbours a supermassive black hole Photo: AP Photo/Gemini Observatory, AURA artwork by Lynette Cook via Nature
Scientists find biggest ever black holes

Image 2 of 3
A diagram depicting the immense size of the black hole discovered in the galaxy NGC 3842 Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Milky Way clone: a large spiral galaxy named NGC 6744

Image 3 of 3
Polish cosmologist Nikodem Poplawski, of Indiana University, Bloomington, recently suggested a hidden universe could exist inside every black hole Photo: ESO/PA

A team led by astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, discovered the two gigantic black holes in clusters of elliptical galaxies more than 300 million light years away.

But they could not believe their eyes – and the scientific community spent two decades before they accepted what they were seeing.

The previous black hole record-holder was the size of 6 billion suns.

The Oxford University astrophysicist Michele Cappellari, who wrote an accompanying commentary to the research published in the journal Nature, said the findings were at first unbelievable.

“It took a couple of decades to believe that these black holes weren’t just fantasy but actually reality”, he told Radio Four’s Today programme.

In the research, the scientists suggest these black holes may be the leftovers of quasars that crammed the early universe. They are similar in mass to young quasars, they said, and have been well hidden until now.

The scientists used ground-based telescopes as well as the Hubble Space Telescope and Texas supercomputers, observing stars near the black holes and measuring the stellar velocities to uncover these vast, invisible regions.

Black holes are objects so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape. Some are formed by the collapse of a supersize star.

It’s uncertain how these two newly discovered whoppers originated, said Nicholas McConnell, a Berkeley graduate student who is the study’s lead author.

To be so massive now means they must have grown considerably since their formation, he said.

Most if not all galaxies are believed to have black holes at their centre.

The bigger the galaxy, it seems, the bigger the black hole.

Quasars are some of the most energised and distant of galactic centres.

The researchers said their findings suggest differences in the way black holes grow, depending on the size of the galaxy.

“They are monstrous,” Berkeley astrophysicist Chung-Pei Ma told reporters. “We did not expect to find such massive black holes because they are more massive than indicated by their galaxy properties. They’re kind of extraordinary.”

Ma speculates these two black holes remained hidden for so long because they are living in quiet retirement – much quieter and more boring than their boisterous youth powering quasars billions of years ago.

“For an astronomer, finding these insatiable black holes is like finally encountering people nine feet tall whose great height had only been inferred from fossilised bones.

“How did they grow so large?” Ma said in a news release. “This rare find will help us understand whether these black holes had very tall parents or ate a lot of spinach.”

One of the newly detected black holes weighs 9.7 billion times the mass of the sun. The second, slightly farther from Earth, is as big or even bigger.

Even larger black holes may be lurking out there. Ma said that’s the million-dollar question: How big can a black hole grow?

The researchers already are peering into the biggest galaxies for answers.

“If there is any bigger black hole,” Ma said, “we should be able to find them in the next year or two. Personally, I think we are probably reaching the high end now. Maybe another factor of two to go at best.”


2011 December 25
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
 the highest resolution version available.

M1: The Crab Nebula from Hubble
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Hester, A. Loll (ASU); Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin (Skyfactory) Explanation: This is the mess that is left when a star explodes. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD, is filled with mysterious filaments. The filaments are not only tremendously complex, but appear to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and a higher speed than expected from a free explosion. The above image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, is presented in three colors chosen for scientific interest. The Crab Nebula spans about 10 light-years. In the nebula‘s very center lies a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but with only the size of a small town. The Crab Pulsar rotates about 30 times each second.


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